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Your-newborns-first-six-weeks

Your newborn’s first six weeks: Colic, Jaundice and Umbilical Hernia

Your beautiful baby is here!
Your heart is filled with love for this little creature, who stretches and suckles and adores you. You also realise just how responsible you are for this tiny baby, and how much they depend on you for everything.

During the first six weeks, many questions and concerns come up. Below are some things to look out for, as you begin to care for your child. Remember, though, infants in general just need a few things: food, sleep and lots of love.


Colic:

Colic is a general term that refers to an infant who seems fussier than they should be. First, make sure that your baby is fed and has a clean nappy. Help her go to sleep if she needs to do that, or just snuggle with her close to your chest, where she can feel your heartbeat (infants often want to do this). If, once all these needs are met, your baby continues to cry, you can dealing with colic.

Indigestion and gas are often the root causes of colic, because a baby’s digestive system is not finished developing until Week 7. In order to relieve this, you can lay the baby on her back and bring her knees gently to her chest, stretch them out. Repeat this several times. You can also rub her stomach clockwise, or give the baby some infant probiotics.

If your colicky baby needs calming down, there are several things that either you or someone else can do. These include bouncing on an exercise ball while holding the baby close to your chest, swaddling, bringing them to a dark room or holding them with your forearm, so that their head is by your elbow and your hand is between their legs. This helps their tummies feel better. White noise also comforts them because that is what they heard inside the womb. You can play white noise on your phone, using an app or just YouTube. You can also turn on the shower, hoover or hair dryer.

Also remember that babies often feel overwhelmed and tired around 6pm, the same as grown-ups. You can do things that will help you cope, such as giving the baby to your partner, friend or relation for a short amount of time, so that you can eat, shower or use the toilet by yourself. This will help you continue to have the patience and energy to help your baby calm down.

Jaundice:

While some jaundice can be expected around day two or three, it is important to make sure that the jaundice does not go outside the range of normal. Jaundice is caused by an excessive amount of bilirubin. While the baby is growing inside you, he has a high amount of red blood cells in his blood stream, which provide him with the oxygen he needs. Once he is born and is breathing oxygen, he no longer needs all of these red blood cells, and so the excess cells are broken down and eliminated. Bilirubin is a by-product of this process, and is what gives the baby a yellow tinge. Through breastfeeding and then urination, the baby should eliminate the bilirubin and the yellow tinge with fade.

However, if you are concerned that your baby is too jaundiced or is remaining so when she should not be, contact your GP or midwife. If your baby looks like she’s spent too much time on the tanning beds or her skin remains yellowish even after you press down on it with your fingertips, you should get a medical opinion. Treatment can include breastfeeding often, exposing the baby to sunlight or, in some case, phototherapy (special light treatment) in hospital. If you think there is a serious underlying cause, you can do blood tests.

Umbilical Hernia:

This condition is when a small part of the intestine protrudes through the abdominal muscles. It appears as a small bulge, usually at the base of the cord stump (or near the belly button, if the cord has come off), and you can see it especially when your baby cries. Umbilical hernias will often close on their own by the time your baby turns one. If it has not done so by the time he is two or three, you can have it corrected through surgery. 

If you think your baby has this condition, definitely speak with your GP or midwife.

About the Author

Liz Farsaci is a journalist, doula and mother. Based in Dublin, she loves to discuss politics, parenting and perineums. She fantasises about having five minutes by herself one day.

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